The harvest of Gospel wheat – Refelction for the 5th Sunday of Lent

Their daughter has moved into a new home with her husband and new-born baby — their first grandchild. Their son is in his final year in college, busy with his thesis and first job interviews. So they’re empty nesters — and, truth be told, they’re looking forward to this next chapter of their lives.

The big four-bedroom house is more than they need. It sold within days of listing. They quickly found an apartment within walking distance of downtown. Perfect.

The downsizing begins. They’re not especially sentimental — but going through the things they accumulated in four-plus decades of marriage becomes a surprisingly emotional experience.


Packing up the kids’ sports equipment brings back memories of those cold, early morning swimming practices. Wrapped in parkas and warmed by who-knows-how many cups of hot coffee, they sat in empty freezing arenas before sunrise as their son developed into a skilled swimmer who would be recruited by several colleges.

They never realized how chipped and scratched their good dishes were until they packed them for moving. But every crack evokes a warm memory of a Christmas or Birthdays; every chip brings to mind the face or voice of a cherished loved one.

In the garage, they move out the old dining room table — one of the first pieces of furniture they bought together. Just starting out, the table was more than they could afford — she was especially anxious about buying it. But it soon became the centre of their home, the place where their new family came together for dinner and games, for homework and bill-paying, temporary landing places for laundry and mail.

They’re moving steadily through it all — until they come to their children’s baby books. Once they begin thumbing through the pages, they found themselves siting together on the couch amid the packing boxes, reliving their fears of being first-time parents, the mistakes they made that their kids managed to survive, the long nights and lasting joys their daughter and son brought them.

The story of a marriage told in ten rooms: each room with a story of heartbreak and healing, of planting in fear and reaping in hope, of experiencing little “deaths” on the way to a new chapter of life.

A couple downsizing their home comes to realize the many small “deaths” and “resurrections” they have experienced. Every life is filled with moments of change and discovery — some difficult and painful. Jesus’ image of the “grain of wheat” reminds us that life demands change, risk and “dying” to our fears, despair and sense of self — but if we’re willing to risk loving and allowing ourselves to be loved, Jesus promises us the harvest of the Gospel wheat. In our willingness to nurture healing and forgiveness, in our openness to God’s grace and the compassion of others, there will always be new beginnings, second chances, constant plantings and unlimited bounties. Only by loving is love returned, only by reaching out beyond ourselves do we learn and grow, only by giving to others do we receive, only by dying do we rise to new life.